Federal government’s Regional and Small Publishers Innovation Fund suffers further delays

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has been forced to push back the launch date of the government’s Regional and Small Publishers’ Innovation Fund.

Originally planned to launch in July, the scheme was delayed after legislation was stuck in the Senate. Once the scheme was opened, 186 publishers applied for grants, forcing ACMA to further push back the scheme as it struggles to evaluate the applications.

Originally part of the federal government’s media reform package, the three-year fund offers up to $16m per annum across three tiers of funding for projects helping publishers and content providers compete in the evolving media environment.

The fund is off limits to sites such as The Guardian, New York Times and Mumbrella as local ownership requirements stipulate “Australian residents or Australian entities, either alone or in aggregate, hold a majority interest” in the successful applicants.

Mumbrella sold to American-owned Diversified Communications in December last year.

Another limitation for publishers is the provision that “applicants must not be formally affiliated with a political party, union, financial institution, non-government organisation or policy lobby group.”

The scheme is part of the government’s $60m Regional and Small Publishers Jobs and Innovation Package which also includes a subsidised cadetship program and 60 regional journalism scholarships.

Mumbrella has been told the government intends to announce successful bidders for the cadet and scholarship programs in coming weeks.


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